Kaiser: Get ready to grab your wallets, ObamaCare subscribers!

Make that, “Grab your wallets again,” and not just ObamaCare subscribers. After numerous data points suggested that 2017 would bring larger price increases than previous years in the individual-coverage markets run by HHS, the Kaiser Foundation confirms that the price shock will hit again this fall — just as voters go to the polls. Thanks to the rapid increase in the lower-priced plans, taxpayers will get hit hard whether they buy their insurance through ObamaCare or not:

Many of the initial reports of premium increases for 2017 have been based on anecdotal examples or averages across insurers. This brief takes a different approach, presenting an early analysis of changes in insurer participation and premiums for the lowest-cost and second-lowest silver marketplace plans in major cities in 13 states plus the District of Columbia where complete data on rates is publicly available for all insurers. Using this information, we are able to calculate the premium a specific person might pay without a premium tax credit, and take into account new plans entering the market. It follows a similar approach to our analyses of 2014, 2015, and 2016 marketplace premiums. …

While we cannot generalize to all states until more data become available later this year, in most of these population centers, the costs for the lowest and second-lowest silver plans are, in fact, increasing faster in 2017 than they have in previous years. Based on insurer rate requests, the cost of the second-lowest silver plan in these cities will increase by a weighted average of 10% in 2017. Last year, premiums for the second-lowest silver plans in these areas increased 5% following review by state insurance departments.  There is substantial variation across markets, with premium changes for second-lowest silver plans ranging from a drop of 13% to an increase of 18%. Premiums for 2017 are still preliminary and could be raised or lowered through these states’ rate review processes.

On top of that, half of the states surveyed will have fewer providers in the market, too:

We also find that some states will have fewer insurers participating in 2017 than participated in 2016.  On average across these 14 marketplaces, participation is down slightly from 2016 but similar to that of 2014. In the 14 marketplaces included in this analysis, half (7) will see insurer participation remain steady or increase, while the other 7 states will see a drop in the number of issuers, in many cases due to the withdrawal of UnitedHealth.

Kaiser even provides this handy chart to show the trends from 2016 to 2017:


Consumers will take the biggest hit in Oregon in 2017, with a 26% increase on top of a 13% increase the year before. That comes up just shy of the worst two-year increase, though; Colorado will see prices shoot up another 14% after a 29% increase last year. Still, Oregon has seen prices go up an average of 16% each year ObamaCare has been in effect.

But taxpayers across the board will pay for this escalation as well:

The two lowest-cost silver plans are significant because they are the most common plan choices in the marketplaces, and the second lowest-cost plan is the benchmark used to calculate government premium subsidies.

The higher prices go on these plans, the more government has to pay in subsidies no matter which plan consumers choose in these markets. That means subsidy payments will continue to escalate far past the projections that Democrats made when passing ObamaCare and which will push the program even further into the red.

ObamaCare’s defenders rationalized price increases in the first year or two as an expected adjustment to new utilization rates. We’re on Year Four now, and the problem continues to get worse rather than better. At what point do we finally acknowledge that government-run and mandated health insurance markets are a flat-out terrible idea?